Nathan Horton has been dubbed the next scoring forward for the Florida Panthers' franchise, but has yet to truly put out a full season of production.
Horton was second on the team in goals with 27. In the 2008-09 season Horton will be heavily relied on to fill the void left by center Olli Jokinen. There is no doubt he has been solid in his three seasons as a Panther, but when will he step up and become a legitimate scoring threat?
This is the year Horton must prove he can consistently be productive, and be a good leader in the locker room. Leadership is an area that the Panthers are lacking in, aside from Cory Stillman, Wade Belak and Tomas Vokoun. Young players need to step up and create chemistry on and off the ice with each other.
The Welland, Ontario native was drafted third overall in the 2003 NHL draft. He was drafted behind Marc-Andre Fleury and Eric Staal. Horton was highly successful in the OHL. He had two productive years with the Oshawa Generals.
The problem for Horton has been putting out a full effort every night. Some nights he looks like a man possessed, and others he disappears and seems to never be near the puck. That is a trend Horton will have to stop.
With many new faces added to the Panthers, there seems to be a better attitude among the organization. It seems this team is ready for a playoff run, what they are lacking is a leader. Could that leader be Horton? We'll have to wait and see.